A lot has changed as far as the needs of ceramics. We have cheap and plentiful, but mostly soulless, daily use pottery. I think that because we have so much mass produced ware that it has given us a desire and a fantastic opportunity to breathe new life into ceramics. We are a connected world but we are so often missing those intimate connections. What is more intimate than a cup or a bowl and an offering of food or drink to a friend or a family member?
It occurred to me, a while back, that eating together is a very intimate act. Eating with a stranger is a primal and meaningful act that allows people to come together. You learn a lot just by partaking in this simple action and the inevitable conversation that comes with it.
Using a cup or bowl also involves the maker. If you drink from a cup made by someone you know, they are with you in a way. Even if you dont know the maker personally you know that the intention is there. If it is an honest vessel it comes not only with the clay and glaze but also with the intention of that connection. Clay is a way to connect with your fellow human beings in a way that no other medium allows you to achieve.
I’m stuck in this ridiculously long making cycle. I have not really finished making any glazes so I keep on making and making. I probably have 75-80 pots ready to glaze and then to ultimately fire. I guess its not bad for my first real cycle. Every pot I throw gives me more experience, which is good. Once I have some glazes made up and tested I will be able to have a more reasonable cycle, probably 50 pieces made, bisque, ponder about how to glaze, eventually glaze, glaze fire and then done. Repeat.
Each cycle should focus on getting better at every aspect and out of that a rhythm should occur. Once the rhythm is in place you can play within that rhythm and experiment. I think that every cycle should have a few experimental pieces and every glaze fire load should have some glaze experiments in it as well. You just never know what you are going to get which is aggravating sometimes when you have expectations but also exhilarating at the same time. I had no idea that iron oxide sprinkled on the glaze would have these shadowy dark brown halos, or that rutile would come out with this wonderful metallic golden orange, or that the 2 white glazes I was testing would come out so warm.
It occurred to me that I didnt do a proper post about the kiln conversion. Been a bit behind lately I guess.
So here it is.
I found this information on the Ward Burner site which is a fantastic resource. You cant even buy a burner without talking to someone and going through the entire process and calculations so that what they sell you is specifically designed to do what you want to do. They are fantastic to work with. The MR100 burner with the regulator that pushes 11WC” of pressure. Its the standard off of any tank. I got this burner because it pushes more BTU and it is bad to the BONE!
The important information:
Burner port is 1″ wider than the burner dimentions
Exhaust port is 2″ wider than the burner dimentions
First put on your mask. DO THIS! You dont want to breathe this stuff. It might not kill you right away but it would be a shame to end your ceramics career and life before your have to.
It starts off like this.
Get it cleaned out. Vaccum it out with a shop vac and get the inevitable junk out of it.
Then get in there and remove the dangly bits and the wires and controller if it has one.
Then carefully remove the elements. Those were the most troublesome part as they kept trying to break off the lip of the fragile soft brick.
For the exhaust I cut the soft brick of the lid using a small saw. I drew the template using a straight edge ruler and a permanent marker but just about anything will do. This shows the width as 2″ larger than the burner port.
I intentionally cut my exhaust width wise to the correct dimensions but cut it longer than necessary so that I could put a kiln shelf or two on top and regulate how much air gets in or out as well as move the port to the font or the back of the kiln during firing.
Cutting the burner port itself was a challenge due to the sheet metal housing. I ended up drilling a hundred small holes and then doing my best to clip off the sharp edges using some wire cutters.
Make sure you have a tank of LP Propane, depending on how fast and how hot you are firing you might need a larger tank. I opted for the 100lb tank and I have another 2 firings out of it before I have to refill it. You can see the vapor line of condensation indicating the level of fuel left in the tank. A 20lb BBQ tank would most likely freeze up before I got to temperature.